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7-Business: US Activists win round on modified-food proxy votes



----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  Activists win round on modified-food proxy votes
SOURCE: Dow Jones, by Phyllis Plitch, edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   March 7, 2000

-------------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ --------------------


Activists win round on modified-food proxy votes

NEW YORK -- Religious and other activist investors have, according to 
this story, scored new victories in their efforts to compel companies 
to include proposals on genetically modified foods and prescription-
drug prices in their proxies. The Securities and Exchange Commission 
has rejected arguments by several companies hoping to keep the 
controversial resolutions off their proxies - and thereby stymie 
investor efforts to bring the issues to a shareholder vote.

The SEC refused to allow Bestfoods (BFO), Coca-Cola Co. (KO) and 
Philip Morris Cos. (MO) to omit proposals on the issue of genetically 
modified foods. The story says that the three were among 19 U.S. 
companies, including "life science" concerns, food and beverage 
makers, restaurants and supermarkets, targeted by religious 
institutions and other so-called socially responsible investors. 
About a dozen companies challenged the inclusion of the resolutions 
in their proxies.

Bestfoods and Philip Morris haven't sent proxies yet, but Coca-Cola 
included the resolution in its recently filed proxy statement. The 
story says that Coca-Cola urged its shareholders to vote against the 
proposal, saying that the company "has a firm policy of using only 
ingredients that have been thoroughly evaluated for safety and 
accepted for use in food products by all appropriate regulatory 
authorities."

Nevertheless, Coke said that while suppliers combine "biotech" corn 
with traditional varieties to produce high-fructose corn syrup, it's 
a highly refined carbohydrate, "and materials that may be produced as 
a result of biotechnology are removed as the raw corn is made into 
(the syrup.)"



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